Friday, 23 May 2008

Where the roads have no names

I'm now more than a week into work at my new place and so far, so good. I love the feeling of sky's the limit in terms of how much I can learn here. At times it is overwhelming, but being able to structure and organise the work means hopefully, little by little, I'll get there.

The new office is located in Asylum Down. Until I saw it in writing I always assumed it was a Ghanaian word, maybe something like Asalem Dawen. After writing it out an agreement on Tuesday where I inserted our address, the background to the name suddenly hit me. This area actually slopes down from where the mental hospital is located. In the lovely way of giving directions in Ghana I can imagine that the name originated from someone directing to another person, saying, get to the asylum, then down. Over time this would be simplified to Asylum Down!

I wouldn't have made this connection so easily though if it wasn't for a flyer I once saw, possibly for Asanka locals or Blue Gate where the 'address' on the flyer was *Papaye down, then left'. Ingenious! As much as I often complain about the lack of road names, causing us to have to give very detailed directions (how I wish we could live in an A to Z city like London!), the solutions to these problems are so entertaining! And similiarly, some areas have been named accordingly, e.g. Asylum Down and the horribly named Sodom and Gomorra.

Apparently La Bone (pronounced 'bonni') and La Badi were also named in this way. This is were the bad guys/rogues lived so they were known in Ga as the bonni people, which when the English people came was kindly translated for them to the baddies, i.e. La Badi (this story was told to me by big H so I cannot guarantee its accuracy). Jamestown as well, its full name being Jamestown British Accra, is in Ga known as Ngleshie (pronounce it and its basically 'English)!

What a wonderfully simple way to name a place!

2 comments:

Nana Yaw Asiedu said...

Maya, interesting and wonderful-sounding names. Papaye or wherever down will not help when there are so many little connecting streets and all.

Maya said...

I know, but I guess it's better than "turn right at the kenkey-seller with the red hat's stand"!

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